OCEAN CITY – A handful of bike-related projects dominated most of the discussion at a resort committee meeting this week.
On Wednesday, the Ocean City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) discussed several concerns and ideas related to ongoing projects in and around Ocean City.
In late June, officials broke ground on a new bike and pedestrian path in West Ocean City. And this week, the State Highway Administration (SHA) began the first stages of construction with a drainage pipe project on Golf Course Road.
For the most part, the 10-foot wide trail will run along the south side of Route 50 from Route 611 to the bridge The project also includes a crossing at the intersection near Hooper’s Crab House where bikers and pedestrians can access a path.
While the new trail is located outside the resort, Councilman Tony DeLuca relayed concerns from West Ocean City businesses to SHA Assistant District Engineer Jana Potvin, a member of the town’s BPAC committee.
“Matt James, a councilman, got two calls from businesses south of Route 50 saying the crossing is very dangerous because SHA took the south side of Route 50,” he said. “It has 15 driveways versus the northside of Route 50, which has five driveways.”
DeLuca noted the businesses were concerned the entrances to commercial driveways could be dangerous for bikers and pedestrians using the trail.
Potvin, however, said several pedestrian counts along that corridor highlighted a demand for a trail on the south side of Route 50. She also pointed out existing bike and pedestrian facilities to the north of Route 50.
“This way we provide connectivity to both sides of the roadway,” she said.
Bill Neville, the town’s director of planning and community development, questioned if the trail crossings would include stop bars and markings at the entrances to commercial businesses.
“There are probably some things built into your design that are part of this answer,” he said.
Potvin said she would review the plans and discuss the issue further at the committee’s next meeting.
“Our access management standards traditionally have stop signs and stop bars and yield signs and yield bars at commercial driveway entrances,” she said. “I would have to look at the plans and verify what is there and what isn’t.”
The committee on Wednesday also discussed the possibility of a shared use path on a 14-foot-wide sidewalk along South Philadelphia Avenue.
Committee President Paul Mauser said committee members identified the sidewalk as a potential shared use path while reviewing impediments that prohibited the town from installing a continuous bike path in the downtown area.
“We were looking at that area saying, ‘How the heck are we going to fit a bike lane in downtown when there are so many physical impediments and fences and buildings block to block,’” he said. “Our idea was to put the route on the west side of Philadelphia Avenue along this potential shared use path.”
DeLuca said the path, which runs from North Division Street to South 1st Street, could be used for bikers and pedestrians traveling between the Inlet and St. Louis Avenue.
Mauser noted, however, the sidewalk is in state right of way and that the town would have to pass an ordinance to allow bikes to operate on the path.
“We do want to consider that,” he said.
Potvin said the sidewalk was wide enough to accommodate a shared use path, but questioned what improvements would be needed to meet state design standards.
“I will get those answers to you,” she said.
In May, town council members received contact from a resident requesting bike racks be installed at street ends near the beach.
While they noted the demand for bike parking at street ends, members discussed the opportunity for a pilot project at 28th and 67th streets.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins noted the department could also construct simple wooden frames near the dunes as part of the program.
This week, however, DeLuca shared some comments from the Mayor and Council regarding the design and location of the bike racks.
“What we need is a drawing for the Mayor and Council to approve and what streets we want to test,
he said. “We can probably test two or three streets, or even four.”
DeLuca said Councilman Mark Paddack also recommended several street ends in north Ocean City.
“Maybe we should test one up north,” he said.
Neville questioned if the town would need state approval to test the bike racks near the dunes.
“There isn’t a lot of room at the street ends where the asphalt ends and where the dune easement is,” he said. “Is there a zone to do this in?”
Mauser, a liaison to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ dune maintenance program, said he would contact the department.